Recruiting the IT talent of the future

The workplace of 2005 was very different to the one we find today. Windows XP was still in the first flush of youth, a tablet was still something we swallowed, and with the iPhone still no more than a pip in Apple’s eye, our phones had buttons, not apps.

Each of these technologies, as they appeared between then and the end of the decade, had a transformative effect on how we work, play and communicate, and opened up massive revenue streams for any tech-focused company that had the foresight to employ a workforce ready to embrace them. Rather than be blinded by what technical skills a potential employee has today – which may soon be out of date – consider how well they will cope with the shifting world of IT.

“To be successful, you need to hire based on the type of person, not purely skillset, and then invest in those individuals.”

“The nature of IT [means] it’s constantly evolving,” says James Milligan, director of Hays IT. “What we’re recruiting for now is different to what we’ll be recruiting for in five years’ time and what we were recruiting for five years ago. If you want to be successful, you need to hire based on the type of person, not purely skillset, and then invest in those individuals.”

Investing in employees’ development – and demonstrating that investment to prospective candidates – are two parts of what Milligan sees as building a highly valued “employment brand”, which would help a company attract the right employees to carry it forward. “There are more jobs than there are people, so if you’re in a competitive situation the candidate holds the cards. You have to demonstrate why someone should even send in their CV for an interview with you.”

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Hays’ own studies have revealed that, for the so-called Generation Y, personal on-the-job development and a clear career path are key draws that, all things being equal, will achieve the best response and see better levels of staff retention.

Train to work

Learndirect’s Gavin Hubbard has similar thoughts on the correlation between training for the future and staff loyalty. “A good apprenticeship programme will lead to better staff retention,” he said, “and those apprentices will go on and do more within those organisations.”

This is all very well for a bank, but what about smaller organisations, many of whom employ only a handful of staff and lack the resources to develop an equivalent training programme themselves? Here, many would outsource the task to an organisation such as Hubbard’s, which runs programmes for employers of all sizes, from multinationals to those with only half a dozen on the payroll.

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“We try and look three to five years hence at what a business is trying to achieve,” he explained. “[We’ll] also look at learning trends to make sure we’re not designing a programme that’s only got a year left in it. We’ll always try and make sure we’re designing a programme that’s fitting [the employer’s] strategy and isn’t time-bound in any way.”

Wherever possible, the training is delivered in a manner that suits Milligan’s Generation Y workforce, and by remote means if that’s practical. “We’ll try and do WebEx, stuff that’s mobile-compatible. It’s all dependent on the capabilities of the employer and the employer’s premises, of course, but we design the learning journey around that.”

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